Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Wonderful Shepherd

Have you ever thought of a scripture passage negatively?

Psalm 23

I have no one to guide my life: I am alone. I have needs that cannot be met on my own, but there is none to take pity on me. I wander aimlessly; tired and thirsty. The ground is bare and hard: there is no water in sight. My soul is restless. I cannot find a path to follow. The journey is arduous. I walk alone in this dark valley, feeling death near to me. I cry out for help but no one answers. There is no one to comfort me. I am mocked by my enemies: rejected. I look for something to eat, anything, but am refused. The cup in my hand remains dry. Guilt and fear haunt me; following me like a shadow that never leaves. Forever I am destined to wander without a place to go when needing refreshment and rest.

Now get your Bible and read what it REALLY says.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pesto Pizzazz

WOW! I didn't know I could deviate so far from the original standard pesto recipe and have it tasting amazing! Here's the deal- I live in a country that makes it hard to find pine nuts AND Parmesan cheese. If I do come across them, it's outrageously expensive! I followed the directions for my cilantro pesto for the most part, just excluding the hot red pepper and ginger. You are going to want to try this! I'm tellin' you... if you can turn on your blender/food processor , then you are half way there!

Fresh Basil Pesto
1 cup PACKED fresh basil
(Be sure to wash, remove the stems and pat dry.)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients into the blender/food processor and blend thoroughly. Store in an airtight container for a few days or freeze until you need it.

I really enjoyed making a fresh tomato sandwich, adding a bit of pesto on my mayonnaise. I even added some to my egg before scrambling! It was delicious! Chicken Pesto was easy too. Cook strips of chicken in a bit of oil, salt and pepper. Add to cooked, drained noodles. I threw in a bit of butter, olive oil, splash of lemon juice and a tablespoon of pesto (for 2 servings).
So easy and so fresh!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eat Your Veggies!

Who knew a bowl of steamed veggies could taste so good!? I simply washed and threw them into the steamer part of my pot and placed the lid on, testing them once in a while to check their done-ness. I didn't want them overcooked and since carrots take longer, I cut them thinner. I simply added a little butter and salt to my bowl and wham! Tasty! I could make a meal out of it, but my dear hubby might keel over and die a few hours later so this was a side dish for him :)

Steaming the a better way to go for a more nutritious diet than boiling because fewer nutrients are leached away into the water, which is usually discarded. I guess that rules out stir-fry!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Luscious Lemon Squares

Pucker Up~
I was planning on serving a plate of fruit to some friends tonight and wanted a baked treat as well but when I thought about a chocolate chip cookie and a piece of pineapple- I puckered up! That is just an AWFUL combination! I decided to make lemon bars. They were a perfect treat to go along side the fruit platter. And it's made out of ingredients I usually have right on hand!

Luscious Lemon Squares
Preheat your oven to about 350. It's always hard for me to guess since I am accustomed to using an over-sized toaster oven. Just get your oven hot! :)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
Mix these three ingredients in a bowl until crumbly and pat into a small 9x9 pan. Bake for about 10- 15 minutes. You don't really want to see any browning yet. Pull it out and let cool while you mix the filling.
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons lemon juice ( I use the bottled juice)
Powdered sugar for dusting
Using the same bowl you made the crust in, combine all these ingredients and whisk a few times. Pour over the crust and bake until the edges are golden brown and the top looks set (doesn't move when you take out the pan). Cool for a bit and gently dust the top with powdered sugar. Don't attempt to cut the bars until a cooled completely. One thing that helps keep a clean cut to the bars, is to wipe the knife with a wet paper towel every once in awhile.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lemon Dill Cucumber Salad

It's warming up and what a perfect, refreshing salad to go along with dinner! It's really easy but you'll want to eat it fresh- it gets a little soggy after a few days.

2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
cheery tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar ( or honey)
Fresh dill approximately 3 tablespoons

I first placed the peeled and sliced cucumber in a dish, sprinkled salt over them and left the dish in the frig for 20 minutes. Cucumbers have a lot of water so this helps bring out the juice. Drain and add the sliced onion and tomatoes.
Mix up the mayo, lemon, salt, sugar and dill week. Pour over salad and mix gently. Serve COLD. Enjoy!

How easy is that!?!?!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Well-Balenced or Undecided?

I found a pair of earrings that I just LOVE! One ear now reads, "yes", while the other ear says, "no"! When I bought them, a friend told me it means I am a well-balanced person. I looked at her and said that i might mean I cannot make up my mind! I thought of the verse in Matthew that says, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'..." These are fun earrings to wear and now I have something to ponder on. Know what I believe, where I stand- when to say no and when to say yes. Only by abiding in Him, will I be well-balanced. Shopping in Taiwan is a load of fun. Anyone want to join me?
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Glazed Banana Bread

Here in Taiwan we have so much fresh fruit and often it will go bad in this warm weather before I can use it. But right now bananas are in season and generous people keep giving us bunches. I have been cutting them and freezing them in baggies. Savannah loves munching on small, frozen pieces and another favorite is a smoothie! I just throw in some milk or juice, yogurt (of any kind and flavor) and pieces of frozen banana. Whalah! You have a refreshing drink!
But lately I have been experimenting with different banana bread recipes and developed this one. It’s moist with a crumb topping AND glaze. It’s so easy! If you can peel a banana, you can make this.

Glazed Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix in a bowl:
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup oil
3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir just until blended. Add:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix. The batter will be THICK. Pour into a greased 9x9 pan or fill 2/3 full in a muffin tin.

Crumb Topping
1 tablespoon butter, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons flour
Dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
If I have granola on hand, I’ll throw that in the mix as well. It gives it a nice crunch.
Mix and sprinkle to the top of the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes. I insert a knife right into the middle to check doneness. There should be no batter sticking to the knife. Once out of the oven, cool for about an hour before adding the glaze.

(these ingredients are all approximates- just play around with the ingredients until you get a good consistency)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon milk
½ cup powdered sugar

Blend and pour into a baggie. To get the drizzled look, just cut off the corner, squeeze and make designs on the bread. (example pictured)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Let Go... Give it to Me"

Everyday my little girl will find something intriguing to play with and doesn't see any danger in it. But I know there will be consequences if I let her keep it any longer so I say, "let go, Savannah, give it to mommy." What's the immediate response? A scream and a tighter grip! She's only 14 months old- she doesn't need the speech that scissors will cut or she'll choke if that coin is swallowed. She just needs to obey and trust mommy in this situation. But she found it and claimed it as hers! It's SO HARD to let go, isn't it?

As I was kneeling there, trying to help her release her grip, I was struck with a mental picture. She was me and I was my Heavenly Father. He knows the things I am holding onto but He also knows what will hurt me or distract me. In His faithfulness, He sometimes asks me to let go; sometimes forces it out of my hand.

In a small way, I found more faith in just trusting Him with what I claim as important to me. In my heart, I was able to "open my hands" to Him. I want Him to have complete control. I find peace in that. As soon as I reclaimed the scissors, Savannah went on her way happy again and forgot how important those scissors once were.

Matthew 6 says,
Don't worry and ask yourselves, "Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?" Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

I was first introduced to this tasty dressing a few years ago by Teresa Straub while we were living in northern Taiwan, teaching English and figuring out how to eat semi-healthy and use the ingredients around us. It's delicious! It goes very well on a huge garden salad with hard boiled eggs.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
Mix everything in a blender and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Green at Heart

I have this dream of having my own greenhouse someday and as I was wandering through google pictures, I came across this one. Breathtaking! I love the idea of bringing the outside IN. I might make a few changes if this were my very own. More bushes and plants along the sides and more walking/sitting room in the middle. What a perfect atmosphere for herbs! I could grow all the herbs my heart desired. Perhaps a few Lovebirds in a unique cage somewhere. But nonetheless, it is a picture of refreshment-peace- creativity. It would remain green even in a cold winter when everything else is gray and bleak. I'll have you over for coffee and fellowship. Won't you come?